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How to Fight a Traffic Ticket in New Mexico

When a motoris disobeys the traffic laws under the New Mexico Motor Vehicle Code, Chapter 66 NMSA 1978, the offender is notified and written up by a law enforcement officer. This notice is referred to as a Uniform Traffic Citation or, more commonly, traffic ticket, and it can be issued for a moving or non-moving violation. A traffic ticket indicates a violator’s offense and the relevant statute(s), fine penalty, information on the vehicle used to commit the offense, and the traffic court where the case will be resolved. Upon receipt of a ticket, the cited party may admit to the offense by paying the ticket fine or choose to challenge the ticket in court. Statutory penalties for guilty pleas or convictions include fines, surcharges, court costs, community service, probation, restricted driving privileges, and possible jail sentences. Usually, ticketed persons are expected to respond to their tickets within a specific number of days or risk incurring additional penalties, including license suspensions/revocations, arrests, and late fees.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in.

Third-party sites are independent from government sources, and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

Is it Worth it To Fight a Traffic Ticket in New Mexico?

Yes, it is worth it to fight or contest a traffic ticket in New Mexico, especially when confident that the ticket was issued erroneously or innocent of the alleged charges and extensively prove that in a New Mexico Court. Any individual who has received a ticket has the right to decide whether or not to fight it in court. Anyone found guilty of a traffic offense is liable to higher fines and other judicial costs, as well as the possibility of a jail sentence for a misdemeanor or felony traffic offense. A traffic conviction can also result in increased car insurance rates and points assessed on the driver’s license. Winning a case can prevent these consequences. As such, legal advice is highly recommended.

Ways to Fight a Traffic Ticket in New Mexico

In New Mexico, when a traffic ticket is issued at the roadside, an offender is given the option to either pay the ticket or challenge it in court. However, this only applies to non-major traffic offenses, formally called penalty assessment offenses. Court appearances for major or serious traffic offenses are mandatory. These offenses include, but are not limited to:

  • Reckless driving
  • Driving while suspended or revoked
  • Refusing to sign a traffic ticket for any offense
  • Driving while intoxicated,
  • Failure to stop for an accident involving injury, death, or property damage

An individual who signs to fight or challenge a ticket may appear in court on the specified date and time of the ticket for an arraignment hearing. A ticket violation case is heard in the Magistrate Court (when the ticket was issued under the New Mexico Motor Vehicle Code), a Municipal Court (when the ticket is issued under a municipal ordinance), or a Metropolitan Court (when the ticket is issued in Bernalillo County). For example, some felony cases, felony DWIs or vehicular homicide, may be handled by the District Courts. Persons who cannot appear in court on the specified date/time of arraignment must visit the court on the day before the arraignment and no later than 4:00 p.m. to reschedule the date.

Ticket arraignments or court hearings must be attended in person. However, some courts, such as the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court, allow offenders to attend arraignment by phone to discuss case options with an assigned prosecutor and possibly, negotiate a plea agreement. In the state, these hearings provide an opportunity to resolve tickets without having to visit the court again. Offenders are advised to go with the ticket and other pertinent proof documents that will assist with defense. Such documents can include proof of registration, valid driver’s license, repair of defective equipment, and so on. At a hearing attended in person, the offender will be informed of the charge(s) and rights under the law by a judge and asked to plead to the charge(s). A date for trial or pre-trial conference (for DWI cases) will then be scheduled for any person who enters a not-guilty plea. A defendant has the right to demand a jury trial if arraigned in a Magistrate or Metropolitan Court, excluding contempt cases. Also, an offender may self-represent or hire a legal representative, but when the traffic offense is one with a possible jail term, the offender has the right to a court-appointed attorney or public defender. A public defender will also be appointed for indigent offenders.

If convicted of a traffic offense, offenders may be subject to fines, court costs, community service, probation, driver improvement classes, or prison sentences. Although New Mexico does not operate a point system, drivers may still incur license suspensions or revocations for certain traffic convictions and repeat offenses. These convictions also result in increased auto insurance rates. Fines incurred upon guilty convictions are considerably higher than if the offender had paid for the ticket. However, Section §66–8–116(C) of the Motor Vehicle Code places restrictions on the amount in fines that can be assessed against an offender. This law also prohibits any probation imposed for a suspended or deferred sentence from exceeding 90 days. If found not guilty, the charges are dismissed, and the offender walks away without being liable for any penalty, whether court-ordered or insurance-related.

How to Fight a Traffic Ticket Without Going to Court

An offender whose ticket has been checked “Court Appearance” or “Traffic Arraignment” is required to appear in court to answer for the traffic violation. However, when the ticket is not for a major traffic offense, offenders may hire an attorney to appear in their place, and depending on the court, it may be possible to attend an arraignment by phone call. If applicable, the relevant New Mexico Court will provide the appropriate number to call on its official website.

How Do You Get a Traffic Ticket Reduced in New Mexico?

The most recommended way to seek a traffic ticket fine reduction in New Mexico is to go to the courthouse named on the ticket and speak to a judge about the matter. The court may approve community service hours for persons who are unable to pay the fines or court costs upon request, as permitted by §31–12–3(A) or establish a payment plan according to an individual’s financial capability.

Can you Get a Speeding Ticket Dismissed in New Mexico?

Yes, New Mexico traffic tickets, including speeding tickets, can be dismissed for offenders who were found not guilty of an offense or who received a deferred guilty sentence and completed their community service hours, driving improvement/safety courses, or probation. Also, certain traffic tickets such as no insurance, no registration license plate, or no driver’s license may be dismissed upon showing proof of valid license, registration, or insurance at the time of the citation.

What Happens if You Plead Guilty to a Traffic Ticket in New Mexico?

Anyone who elects to pay for a traffic ticket by signing the ticket at the time of issuance or in court before a judge may be liable to, or a combination of, such penalties or consequences as:

  • Fines
  • Court costs/fees
  • Attending driver improvement courses
  • Community service
  • Jail
  • Probation
  • House arrest
  • Raised car insurance rates
  • Traffic convictions on driving records
  • Employment difficulties

How to Find a Traffic Ticket Attorney in New Mexico

Hiring an experienced traffic ticket attorney can ensure positive outcomes in a traffic case, including reduced charges, case dismissals, and unaffected insurance rates. An attorney can also represent an offender in court, negotiate a plea agreement with the prosecutor, as well as save the offender from exorbitant fines and other court-imposed penalties. Lawyers experienced in New Mexico traffic cases can be found via the New Mexico State Bar at (505) 797–6066 or through online services such as the Online Bar Directory to search for lawyers or State Bar General Referral Program (SBGR) to obtain a 30-minute legal consultation and possible referral for a $35 fee. The Ask-a-Lawyer Call-in Program also provides referrals on a Saturday immediately preceding Law Day (May 1st) by dialing the toll-free number, (800) 876–6227.